Braves winning close games under Snitker

Beyond the overall won-lost record itself, there’s one thing in particular that stands out about the Braves’ outcomes since Brian Snitker replaced fired manager Fredi Gonzalez.

They’re winning more close games than they’re losing.

They’ve faced an easier schedule and an improved record was predictable once the Braves got past mid-May, as we and plenty of others noted once it looked inevitable that Fredi was going to be fired. But the performance in close games has been an even more dramatic turnaround than I expected.

The Braves are 6-7 since Brian Snitker replaced fired manager Fredi Gonzalez. (Getty Images)

The Braves are 6-7 since Brian Snitker replaced fired manager Fredi Gonzalez. (Getty Images)

After going 4-12 in games decided by one or two runs during their 9-28 start with Gonzalez as manager, the Braves are 4-2 in games decided by one or two runs during their 6-7 run since Snitker took over, including Monday’s 5-3 win over the Giants.

Nothing was more excruciating for the Braves during their historically awful start than watching so many close games slip away late, whether it be due to errors, bullpen meltdowns and poor performance in late-and-close situations by Braves hitters, and sometimes all of the above.

Think about this: The Braves have won twice as many as they’ve lost in those close decisions since Snitker took over. If they had won even half of those one- and two-run decisions when Gonzalez was managing, they’d have been 13-24 instead of 9-28. If they had won in those close decisions at the same clip as they have since Snitker took over, the Braves would’ve been, what, 10-6 or 11-5 in those games under Gonzalez?

That would’ve put their record at 15-22 or 16-21, and it’s safe to assume he’d wouldn’t have been fired with that mark.

Alas, they did not. They were playing better teams, yes, but the Braves also, for whatever reason, were stumbling and bumbling late in games, unable to put together bullpen consistency, making far too many defensive mistakes, and rarely able to get the big hits late that they’ve gotten more of in the past two weeks.

They’ve improved too late to save Gonzalez’s job, but in plenty of time for the Braves to create a much better vibe around the team as they head toward midseason, toward the expected — and highly anticipated — callup of one or two elite prospects in the second half, then the excitement of watching the future continue to unfold as the team completes its final season at Turner Field and tries to establish some momentum going forward.

After a staggering, hard-to-believe 2-20 start at home the Braves have won three of their past four games at Turner Field, and a win tonight would clinch at least a split of a four-game series with the Giants to complete a long homestand before the Braves head West to face the Dodgers and Padres.

The Giants had won 15 of their past 17 games before the Braves took Monday’s series opener, 5-3. The Braves got strong performance from Mike Foltynewicz, who outpitched All-Star candidate Jeff Samardzija and appears to have finally turned the corner, and got a three-run triple from Mallex Smith, the dynamic rookie who keeps coming up with big hits while conceding he still has a lot learn. Gotta love that kid.

• Wisler vs. Peavy tonight: The pitching matchup is favorable for Game 2 of the season, with another of the Braves’ best young guns, Matt Wisler, facing aging Giants right-hander Jake Peavy.

Wisler is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA and .212 opponents’ average in five May starts, with 27 strikeouts, eight walks and two homers allowed in 36 innings. He’s lasted at least six innings in every start — including two eight-inning jobs — and given up three earned or fewer in each, and the Braves scored a total of three runs while he was in the game for 14 innings in his two losses.

 

Matt Wisler goes for his first home win of the season Tuesday when he faces the Giants and veteran Jake Peavy. (Getty Images)

Matt Wisler goes for his first home win of the season Tuesday when he faces the Giants and veteran Jake Peavy. (Getty Images)

Still looking for his first win this season at Turner Field, Wisler is 0-3 with a 4.18 ERA with a .238/.302/.397 slash allowed in five home starts, compared to 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA and a .224/.268/.371 in five road games (including one relief appearance in which he recorded a save).

Meanwhile in four road starts, Peavy is 0-3 with a 10.00 ERA and has allowed 26 hits (five homers), 20 earned runs and nine walks in 18 innings. But after giving up six or seven earned runs in each of his first three road starts, he limited the Diamondbacks to three hits and one run in six innings of his most-recent road start May 14.

Peavy is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his past four starts against the Braves, all Giants wins, including one in each of the past three seasons. The Mobile, Ala., native allowed one run, five hits and one walk with eight strikeouts in six innings for no decision at Turner Field on Aug. 4, 2015.

Against Wisler, lefties are batting just .196 (22-for-112) with a .266 OBP and .321 slugging percentage, and righties are hitting .224/.268/.371 in 116 at-bats. Denard Span is the only current Giant who’s faced him (1-for-4, two walks).

Against Peavy, Jeff Francoeur is 11-for-32 (.344), Nick Markakis is 7-for-21 with a homer, Ender Inciarte is 5-for-13, A.J. Pierzynski is 5-for-17, and Kelly Johnson is 2-for-12 with six strikeouts.

• I’m gonna close with this one from a great band that needs to put out a new album, as World Party fans would agree.

“PUT THE MESSAGE IN THE BOX” by World Party

World Party

World Party

And if you listen now
You might hear a new sound coming in
As an old one disappears
See the world in just one grain of sand

You better take a closer look
Don’t let it slip right through your hand
Won’t you please hear the call
The world says

Put the message in the box
Put the box into the car
Drive the car around the world
Until you get heard

Now is the moment, please understand
The road is wide open to the heart of every man
A few simple words
So a mule could understand

He don’t want tomorrow
If it’s just crumbling into sand
Won’t please hear the call
She says

Put the message in the box
Put the box into the car
Drive the car around the world
Until you get heard
Until you get heard

The world says
Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
‘Cause I’m waiting right here with my open arms

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your soul to me
‘Cause I’m waiting to behold your many charms
Is that love in the air? She says

Put the message in the box
Put the box into the car
Drive the car around the world
Until you get heard

Until you get heard
Until you get heard
Until you get heard
Until you get heard

 

 

 


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